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Insights Into the Natural History of the Little Known Maned Rat Lophiomys imhausi through Examination of Owl Pellets and Prey Remains

Ogada, Darcy
Journal of East African natural history 2018 v.107 no.1 pp. 1-7
Acokanthera, Bubo, habitat destruction, highlands, humans, juveniles, natural history, pellets, poisonous plants, predators, rats, Kenya
Maned rat Lophiomys imhausi is a highly unusual, but very little known rodent that is endemic to East Africa. A population from the highlands of central Kenya was studied through analysis of owl pellets and prey remains, including one incidental observation. Over 28 months, 40 individual rats were documented, of which two were juveniles. The mean length of time between discovery of rat remains in any one owl territory was once every 5.3 months, and the maximum number of rats found in any single owl territory over one year was five. Maned rat density was low and was estimated at 1 rat/km². Their lower altitudinal limit in Kenya is c. 1900 m, and eagle owls and humans are important predators. Maned rats are not uncommon in highly altered habitats and they may require poisonous plants in addition to Acokanthera spp. for anti-predator defense.